The Heart of the Problem: Applying Biopower to Myself as a Middle Eastern-American

Some notes on emerging thoughts from my Islam in America class at Princeton Theological Seminary.

My grandfather was an Imam in his village in Turkey.  I love studying the True Nature of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Buddhism equally.  As a Turkish-American, I am so tired of seeing American mosques exposed to the same hate that undergirds racism against African-Americans.  I will work to promote dialog and peace and to discover truths about this important topic.

The Root of All Evil

Being at one is godlike and good, but human, too human, the mania

Which insists there is only the One, one country, one truth, and [one way.

-Johann Christian Friedrich Hölderlin

I learned about Foucault’s concept of biopower and decided to apply it to myself with a real time analysis of my own heart rate as a function of time with a heart rate monitor [Garmin FR70 and the Garmin Connect Software].  I seek to learn how all language that I am exposed to on a given day living in America has an impact on my body and mind.  I struggled the past few days with an increased heart rate when studying about the political realities of terrorism conducted in the name of Islam.  As a Middle Eastern American, the reputation of our own communities are being tarnished by the evil deeds of a small number of radical extremists who adopt a fascist political ideology in the “sheep clothing” of Islam.  Indeed, these individuals are “Wolves in sheep clothing.”  Here is a passage that was read in my Islam in America class on Monday that caused a noticeable heart rate increase on two consecutive days as described my past blog entries here and here.  I must learn how to detach from my physical body on this topic to ensure that my spiritual reason remains fully and completely intact during in depth discussions in class and around the meal table at seminary about the realities of the post-9/11 world.  We read the following in the class on Monday and I was utterly shocked when I shared what I thought was the heart of the problem behind the rise of Islamophobia and people struggled to grasp the full impact of the words.  I must work with my speech professor on this topic, Professor Bartow.  Perhaps, this is because there are very few Middle Eastern Americans in the American Christian church.  I seek to write to educate them about the realities of life for us and them.  We are neither I nor “other,” we are human beings and together we constitute the humanity of Princeton Theological Seminary.

“To understand why Muslim Americans [Middle Eastern Americans] need their own media, take a look inside the newsroom of nearly any American newspaper.  The Islamic community’s relationship with the Chicago Tribune, by far the largest news paper in the Midwest, is a good example of the difficulties they face in trying to correct misguided and inaccurate stories written about them.  Of course, it is important not to over-generalize the media’s portrayal of Islam.  Television news is far more biased than print media.  But I offer the Tribune as a good example of how attitudes about Muslims [Middle Eastern Americans] and Islam are institutionalized within some media circles.  … The Tribune unleashed a team of ambitious, hungry reporters on the mosque, having decided after September 11 to launch a series of articles they called “The Struggle for the Soul of Islam.”  … When I [Abdo] joined the Tribune as the religion writer in August 2003, reporting and research for the series had been underway for nearly two years.  … I quickly realized that the reporters had neglected to educate themselves about Islam.  … The project had been underway for many months, yet the editors and reporters were still trying to figure out basic information, such as the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, or the bare-bones history of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the single most important Islamic movement of the twentieth century.  … The stated purpose of this series was to educate readers about Islam around the world.  But, behind closed doors, it was clear there was another motivation: to write primarily about the extremists, the militants misrepresenting the tenets of the religion and giving Islam a bad name.  The Tribune editors and reporters on this particular issue were not interested in enlightening readers about how the majority of Muslims practice their faith.  They wanted only to make sensational headlines by writing about the fringe.  … writing about Bridgeview mosque … show how Muslim moderates had been chased out of the community, after Islamic extremists took over the mosque.  The paper also hoped to prove that these extremists and donations worshippers gave the mosque to help Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, carry out militant attacks against Israel. … they published a story about radicals’ takeover of the mosque and merely implied that these radicals raised money for terrorist organizations.  “Hardliners Won Battle for Bridgeview Mosque,” read the headline on Sunday’s front-page.  When the article hit the newsstands in February 2004, the Islamic community in Chicago was dismayed, and angry.  They disagreed with the article’s premise that radical Muslims had succeeded in their hostile takeover of the mosque.  … If the U.S. government had probed the lives of mosque leaders for years and come up dry, what right did the Tribune have to try to convince its readers that the mosque is a breeding ground for radicalism?   In August 2004, months after the article was published, the U.S. government did charge Muhammad Salah, a man who worshipped at the Bridgeview mosque, with laundering and disbursing more than one millon dollars to support Hamas.  But no one within the mosque leadership was named in the case.”

Abdo, Mecca and Main Street, pp. 128-130

The most disturbing aspect of the Abdo text fragment is the fact that it seems that there may have been a single “wolf in sheep’s clothing” in the mosque.  For this reason, there is some truth to both Abdo’s position and the Chicago Tribune’s position.  I believe the key statement she makes in the text to try to reduce the spread of Islamophobia is, “Of course, it is important not to over-generalize the media’s portrayal of Islam.”  However, stereotypes some times do have some reality and truth behind them.  The important principle to always remember to maintain perfect objectivity by training your heart to beat slower like Olympic archers.  Jesus Christ must have had perfect control of his heart rate.  Thus, so should I.  I find it very important to separate religion and politics as articulated here in all religious organizations for this reason:

Separation of Church and State

Perfect separation of church and state may be delusional, but it is an important goal.

Maintain Secular Government.
The choice we make as to how we live our Religious Lives is very important.
As you can see, I have some religious views.
Many of us do. Many of us do not.
All views of welcome and Loved.

My views most closely align with those of Christianity.
I made this choice, freely.
Freedom of religion.
Freedom of speech.
Freedom of peace.

All people should have the same option.
Furthermore, maintaining perfect Secularity is essential for all people to Live in this increasingly crowded Earth.
Governments must perfectly maintain Secularity.

As Humans begin to realize that the Earth is finite, they will evolve towards the Weltgeist (World-Spirit-Mind) Position.
Failure is not an option.

To this end, I study the reason of Aristotle on the topic of the brain.  I seek to maintain perfect tranquility and serenity by training and conditioning my being to sustain the dark aspects of modern reality.

I discovered two very important teachings of Aristotle today.  They are:

“That the pulse has no connexion with the respiration is shown by the following indication – whether one breathes quickly or regularly, violently or gently, the pulse remains the same and unchanged, but it becomes irregular and spasmodic owing to certain bodily affections and in consequence of fear, hope, and anguish affecting the Soul.”


p. 768, On Breath

“What then is the Soul? They make it out to be a potentiality which is the cause of such a motion as this. Or is it clear that you will not be right in impugning those who say it is the rational and spirited faculty? for they too refer to these as potentialities.

But if the soul resides in this air, the air is at any rate a neutral substance. …”


p. 768, On Breath

I love Augustine on this topic:

“‘… Uneducated people are rising up and capturing heaven (Matt. 11:12), and we with our high culture without any heart – see where we roll in the mud of flesh and blood.  It is because they are ahead of us that we are ashamed to follow?  Do we feel no shame at making not even an attempt to follow?”  That is the gist of what I said, and the heat of my passion took my attention away from him as he contemplated my condition in astonishing silence.  For I sounded very strange.  My uttered words said less about the state of my mind than my forehead, cheeks, eyes, colour, and tone of voice.”

Confessions, St. Augustine

p. 146

The heart of the problem of living today is Mindfully controlling our own hearts when subjected to Satanic language of darkness so as promote the True peace and love of God in the world.  Reason and Faith are both important in The Straight Path, remaining humble and faithful to God during the day to day reality of our lives.  With the advent of modern technology, it is becoming harder and harder to maintain a healthy level of sensory stimulation.  For this reason, I like my friend’s advice for good sleep, “No coffee after 4:00 pm and no screens after 6:00 pm.”  Today, in orientation at Princeton Theological Seminary a speaker stated for peace of heart “Turn off technology.”  She encouraged us to turn off our cell phones, televisions, computers, cars, watches, and other electronics at times in a Mindful way to promote serenity in your own body and mind so you can sustain a faithful ministry to the Church.”

Today, I would like to serve the American Christian church in some capacity.

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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